A popular line used in TV and movies all the time: “If I wanted you dead… we wouldn’t be having this conversation,” or “You wouldn’t be standing here,” or “You’d be dead already.” A few days ago, I heard these very words, “If I Wanted You Dead, You’d Be Dead Already.”
No, I was not watching TV. I was out in the yard. Well not actually. The event that precipitated those words happened in the yard. Contemplation of the event a short time later brought those words. Here’s the story.
Growing up, I did not come from a wealthy family. As a matter of fact, one of the ways we stretched the buck was that my father installed a wood burning stove to supply the heat in the house. What this meant, other than a really nice and warm house, was a lot of time in the woods. Many weekends were spent turning a tree into twenty-inch long pieces of wood that could be burned in the wood stove.
Just a little Tangent:
Shortly after Carla and I began dating she accompanied our family to the woods. You see, she grew up on a dairy farm, so the idea that she didn’t know how to cut wood or work hard wasn’t even a thought. While she proved to be well equipped for both, God provided a little Ice Breaker, as they say, for Carla meeting multiple members of the family. For those who don’t know the process of cutting wood, a quick sum-up: 1) Cut down a tree with a chainsaw, 2) Cut off the small limbs and twigs with a smaller chainsaw, 3) Cut the trunk or the log part of the tree into wood stove/fireplace length pieces with a chainsaw or larger buzz saw, 4) Split the wood with an axe. Now you know the process and the proper tools throughout the process… so did Carla. As we have all experienced at some point, the fact that we know something does not stop our mouths from getting it wrong. Today, this was Carla’s fate. There, in the middle of the woods, where only God and all the members of my family could hear, my brother asked Carla, “Can you split wood (step 4)?” Playfully indignant, Carla responded, “Of course I can split wood… I know how to use a chainsaw!” (any step, except 4) This little misstep in words would joyfully haunt Carla the rest of her days in the family, especially from Pa.
OK, back to the story.
While that was a fun little tangent, it also drew the required picture for our lesson. You should now have in your minds a woods full of trees towering thirty to forty feet in the air. Standing around on the ground are a few people with chainsaws and axes and miscellaneous equipment. In that environment, safety is paramount. No one even begins to cut down a tree without knowing where every one of those things are, letting the people know they are about to cut, and making sure nothing is in the path of the falling tree. Now, not just anyone walks up to a tree and pulls out a chainsaw. Anyone attempting such a feat is trained, not only on the proper use of the tools, but on the risk and safety measures involved. Before you cut a single tree down, you watch and learn as many, many trees are skillfully brought down. You are taught about the “lean” of the tree, the “twist” or “slant” of the tree, and how all these affect its fall. You are even taught to take the wind into account, as a sudden gust or even a constant blow can, and often does, affect the fall. Then you are warned of the “Widow Maker,” the tree that stands and leans and twists in such a way that its fall is unpredictable and it is even possible it will remain standing after being cut clean through. These trees can fall any direction at any time, and a person not paying attention or respecting the potential threat of a thousand pound stick coming at you can end up making a “widow” out of someone. Means, they die.
So, this last weekend my family was out cutting down a few trees that were not in the best shape and were impeding the proper growth of those next to them. The only solution in such cases is to remove the bad trees. On Saturday, we had successfully felled, cut up, and removed a few of these trees. Fairly tired at the end of the day, I decided to cut just two more. The second to last was a forty-foot pine standing straight up to the sky. As I was taught and have practiced for a lifetime, I carefully surveyed the tree and all the factors that could affect the fall. The tree leaned slightly but consistently into the woods, and I knew that it was likely that the support of the other trees would keep it standing even after it was cut. I was not wrong! I cautiously cut the tree, moved quickly and safely out of the way as I completed the cut, and stood back to see the tree still standing.
In scenarios such as this, there is really only one solution: pull it down. Hook a chain or rope around the base of the cut off tree, run it to a tractor or truck, and pull. The bottom of the tree is pulled out from under and, as you drive, the tree falls safely away from you to the ground. So, I wrapped a chain around the base of the tree, hooked it to our 1948 Farmall Cub, climbed up on the tractor and pulled…………..
While it started just as expected, something I had never seen before happened. Happened so quickly that I had only begun to move so I had not had time to turn back and watch the tree’s progress. So quickly that, had Bethany not yelled, I would not have seen it at all. I’m sure by now you have guessed the “what” that happened, but not the “how.” When the tree came off of the stump (as planned) it hit the ground and transferred that energy up the tree, throwing it at the trees holding it up. We all remember our elementary science… “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” In other words, those trees slingshot that pine out of the woods at high speed and directly at my tractor, and me! There was only time for Bethany to yell and for me to look and duck.
I didn’t actually take the pictures I should have at that moment. Writing a post or documenting wasn’t exactly on my mind. Unlike what would have been the case most of my life, that Peace we have been talking about the past couple of years remained. I was completely calm. I was completely calm as I sat there on my tractor with the steering wheel bent down just touching my right leg. I sat completely calm as I looked out past the front of the tractor at the top of that forty-foot pine just kissing the roof of our S-10 pickup a short distance ahead. I sat completely calm as I looked down at this twelve-inch diameter, forty-foot tree lie touching my left arm. I sat calm as I surveyed my body to find a trickle of blood on my right forearm and a couple of drops of blood on the back of my left arm. Later, on checking out everywhere, I had the two just mentioned cuts that surmounted to the equivalent of getting scratched by rose thorns, a faint, quarter-sized bruise on my right knee where the steering wheel stopped, and a slight cut and similar bruise on my left hip where the tree stopped.
As I said, I did not take the pictures of the tree lying straight on top of the tractor, lying from the back of the tractor, touching but past my left arm and hip, sitting across a severely bent steering wheel mount which stopped it just short of crushing my legs, and off the front of the tractor. What I do have pictures of is the steering wheel that the tree bent out of its way before coming to rest on the mount arm (Before I thought to take pictures I straightened the arm enough to be able to steer it back to the barn). I have a picture of the little Farmall Cub and the path of the tree. And I have pictures of the would be assassin, the tree.
Allow me to explain the photos: 1) The 3/4 inch square stick represents the 12 inch round tree. The top circle shows where the steering wheel support arm is, the bottom (left) circle shows where it actually was after the tree bent it. Notice two things: the seat I was sitting in (behind) and the bent steering wheel. 2) Again the stick/tree (remembering photo 1). The circle represents both where my legs were and where the steering wheel stopped. 3) Again the stick/tree, remembering that the tree was 11 inches bigger… meaning no little gap between it and my arm. 4) A virtually identical tree with all the stakes (branches) coming out of it.
What you will easily determine from both the related story and the accompanying pictures is that I in No Way should be sitting here now providing this lesson. The tree should not have fallen without hitting me dead on (excuse the pun). It should not have missed me and should have killed me, much less only done so little damage. The weight of the tree should have been too great for that little tractor to protect me. Also, as you can see from the pictures, mature pine trees have all of these branches that are like wooden stakes sticking out all around and up the trunk. There is no way I should not have been impaled by at least one, likely in a deadly blow.
The unquestionable truth… I should be dead. Not Maybe, Not Possibly, Without Question. Saturday should have been my last day here and my first day standing again with Ma.
How does this tie into my point? As you should know by now if you have read either Forgotten Hope or my post Ma’s Final Message, I have had one of death’s most successful soldiers Stalking me for six years now. You’ll have to read one or both of them for the particulars. Also, this year I had a “stress test,” which for those who don’t know is not an emotional reactive test but a test of the heart’s reaction to physical stressors. This test came out successful… but…a little like the other issue. As a result, my general physician referred me to a cardiologist (heart specialist) for their input. He said he wasn’t really concerned but wanted a better version of the stress test that included images of the heart for a better analysis. So, the test was scheduled along with a 24-hour heart monitor to watch for anomalies in heart rhythm. I passed both with “flying colors” as they say… but… One of the many factors tested and considered did not match all the rest. Again, familiar. So, “out of an abundance of caution, one more test.” This is scheduled for the first week in October, two weeks after yet another appointment about the threat of the Stalker.
I think it is likely impossible, if we are honest, that someone could face these kinds of events and conversations and not at least have the mortality of our physical condition cross our minds. Driving on Sunday to a family “Pig Roast,” it did to me. Not so much as a threat, and definitely not a fear, but from the context of the current condition of the world and the churches’ faithless reaction to it. How could I stand in “Peace and Rest” in the face of such major threats as these, but cower under my bed with my face mask on, afraid of a bug that has less chance of killing me than the likelihood that I die in a car accident? And, if I were twenty-years younger, more likely to be killed by lightning? There probably isn’t a church out there that isn’t currently “praying in faith,” for members who are being attacked by the Adversary’s Soldiers of Cancer and Heart disease, “believing” God can and will protect them and defeat these killers. Yet, these are the very same people who quietly closed the doors of the sanctuary on command of Caesar, proclaiming “stewardship” of the flock… nonsense!
Now, I don’t care if you wear a mask or not… well, that’s not true. I do care, as I have read several articles and watched several interviews with doctors who warn of the risk posed by wearing a mask. But no, I do not take personal offense or think less of those who choose to take this risk. But as we were on our way to a “gathering,” the COVID threat crossed my mind and, as I just said, how could I truly trust God’s Providence with these major threats if I did not trust His plans over this low level one? I did not question, but internally that got me thinking about my pending appointments. Not fearing outright, but just contemplating potential results.
Then I thought about “The Tree” that gave me a little hug the day before and I heard…
“If I Wanted You Dead, You’d Be Dead Already!”
You see, Trust and Faith, Walking in that Trust, is not a part time gig. As I have discussed with friends, family, and even you many times, it is easy to Trust, to have Faith, when things are easy and going your way, when there is no threat and you are getting what you want. Faith in these times is not really Faith as much as simple acknowledgement requiring no actual Trust. Faith, or as we’ve said, Belief, takes real Trust in God’s Providence to sit in prison under a threat of death and not be afraid (Acts16:22-30). It takes real Trust in God’s Plan to be beaten for “The Name” and celebrate “being counted worthy” (Acts 5:29-42). It takes Real Faith in a world greater than the one we are in to stand strong as the Stones begin to fly (Acts 7:58-60). In the light of such examples, how could I not Trust that He will use Cancer, Heart Disease, or even Corona for the ultimate good of His Kingdom?
A quick point we must remain clear about: it is not whether the outcome is Cancer or No Cancer, Heart Problem or Not, or The Rona or Not. It is how, in either case, God uses all for the good of the Spiritual Kingdom and our Eternity (Romans 8:28).
So, while the Adversary has yet to succeed in getting me with any of these Soldiers, he got a little hasty… and dropped a tree on me. To which God Replied… “If I Wanted Him Dead, He’d Be Dead Already!” (John 10:27-29 & 17:1,2)
© Scott A Caughel 9/14/2020